Marco Beltrami has always been a composer that I have admired and have in 99 percent of cases loved his work for film. First memories of Beltrami’s music was like so many other people the SCREAM series, I thought he did a great job in the series and managed to get the right balance between horror and comedy, because after all in my humble opinion the SCREAM movies were kind of a send up at times of other slasher movies as they were called. Beltrami’s scores for the series were an important and integral part of the movies, at times his scores reaching an almost operatic level, with the use of sombre strings rasping brass’s and female vocal. One of the latest releases from the ever industrious Movie Score Media label is MATHILDE, this is a Russian movie that was released last year(2017), so it is probably a film that not a great deal of people will have seen or indeed have heard of, but once again thanks to Mikael at MSM, we have a chance to savour a great score that is literally dripping in romanticism and filled with epic sounding themes. The storyline relates to the watching audience the supposed relationship between the then heir to the Russian throne Nicholas Romanov and the Ballerina, Matilda Kshesinskaya, the film opens in 1890, when we see the couple meet for the first time. It follows the somewhat uneasy and tormented relationship between the pair up until Nicholas and his wife Aleksandra become Tsar and Tsarina six years later.



Apparently, Beltrami was drawn to the project because of the period and the history and the lavish sets and costumes that were part of the production. Beltrami fuses both synthetic and symphonic colours and textures to create a robust and theme laden work, that is haunting as well as entertaining, the underlying tone is romantic, but this is tinged and at times itself underlined by a sound and style that is dark and threatening. Although the composer utilises electronics within the score these do not in any way sound out of place or uncomfortable given the period in which the movies story is set. The composer effectively combining traditional musical sounds as in conventional instrumentation with contemporary synthetics to fashion a score that is filled with drama, romance, fragility and a fair amount of apprehension and darkness. At times I was reminded of the style of Jerry Goldsmith, with bold brass flourishes and fearsome sounding percussion, but there are many sides to this work, and I hope there is something for everyone. The central theme in-particular which is for Mathilde is strikingly beautiful, the composer presenting it throughout in various arrangements and guises. Strings and piano being utilised in most cases and at times with lilting woods and delicately performed harpsichord also entering the musical equation. It has to it an imposing but at the same time melodic persona, like many of the composers earlier works, as in THE FACULTY and the already mentioned SCREAM movies, at times the music attaining a level and richness that one associates with opera or classical composers. One for the collection, yes most certainly.






I suppose the first question has to be, Why Film Music?

Film music has such a range of emotions and therefore demands lots of musical colour. I look for that kind of musicality, which is probably why I love Gustav Mahler so much. His writing, particularly the earlier symphonies, are unparalleled in their orchestral and choral structure. John Williams is his modern equivalent in my eyes (and ears!)

What was the record that you first purchased, and if it was not a soundtrack how long after buying this did you buy your first soundtrack?

It was a cassette of Geoff Love’s science fiction recordings. Most of my music education was perusing through Dad’s record collection. The RCA Classic Film Score Series and Ron Goodwin albums were my favourites. When I purchased my first CD player in 1992 then John Williams’ Hook, JFK, Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade and Far & Away were the first discs I purchased.





Are you a collector that will go and buy a re release of a score because it has 1 or 2 minutes of extra music on it?


Absolutely! Sometimes the shortest cues or alternates are the most effective. Take the last few bars of Monsignor and its Meeting in Sicily cue. Stunning! Classic John Williams. I long for the film version of his Miracle of Miracles arrangement from Fiddler on the Roof to be released one day. Just the opening 30 seconds and closing 20 seconds are incredible! Another short and sweet example which is essential for a collector to treasure.


What composer or composers would you say dominate your collection?

John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Alan Silvestri, Mahler, James Newton Howard, Franz Waxman, Patrick Doyle, Hans Zimmer, Bruce Broughton, Leonard Bernstein, Beethoven. Pretty much in that order.

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Do you find that these days with the internet and click on it buy it available that the actual collecting side of things has lost some of its excitement?

No, more accessibility can be a good thing. I enjoy some of the playlists that Apple Music or Amazon Music devise based on my listening habits.

What type of scores do you prefer, romantic, action or comedy, or is it a case of as long as it’s good you do not mind?

I tend to gravitate to the romantic scores, but love the energy of a good action score. You’re right, mood can be a deciding factor. A bright and colourful comedy score like Simon Boswell’s Jack & Sarah or Hans Zimmer’s The Holiday sits equally with Waxman’s The Philadelphia Story or Elmer Bernstein’s Ghostbusters.


Are there any scores that you have not been able to get, and you are looking for?


John du Prez’s A Chorus of Disapproval score is lovely but nobody seems to know where it is. Craig Armstrong’s full score to Love Actually needs to be made available. The 25 minute promo released shortly after the film came out doesn’t do it justice. Same can be said about Patrick Doyle’s Bridget Jones, even less of the score was released and there’s loads of music which really needs heard! Most was cut from the film or just not used in place of songs.


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What is your opinion about contemporary film scores as opposed to film music from earlier decades?


I enjoy both. Some more than others, but that can be attributed to any genre of musi

How do you store your cds or lps?

Chronologically and in order of composer.

How many LPS did you have in your collection before the arrival of the CD, and how many soundtracks would you say that you have in your collection, combining both LP and CD?

I used to be very organised and kept an Excel spreadsheet of my collection, but life got in the way. Ha! I didn’t have LPs other than Dad’s and I’m not a massive fan of the LP format to be honest. I have a few thousand (some boxed) but can’t be precise. You’ve reminded me to try and log them.



What was your most recent purchase and also what has been the most expensive soundtrack that you have purchased?


I got a nice batch from Intrada with the superb Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and new Franz Waxman cd set.


Thinking back it was probably the John Williams rarity Space camp which cost me £120, also The Accidental Tourist and The Witches of Eastwick were pricey and rare back in the day. I remember paying crazy money for the Oscar promo of JNH’s My Best Friend’s Wedding back in the late 90s too. All of this is before I got married and had children!



A new album by Debbie Wiseman is always a welcome arrival A sign of true quality, of good taste, and sheer superb musicianship. In this instance, not a Soundtrack CD per se, but one that any lover of her unmistakably recognisable music will admire right from the very first track.

The first track though that said is not music. We have a tribute if that is the right word to the Garden. it could be here or indeed anywhere. A very canny move for all over the world, there are Garden fanatics and Music lovers. Why not put them together and you have a double triumph.

Alan Titchmarsh as we all know is a Multi talented broadcaster, author, pundit and Gardening Expert. He has written more books that I was aware of so it is obvious that poetry is a natural adjunct on from there. It maybe that I have missed it, but this could be a first specifically designed for Garden admirers. It may have been that Sir John Betjeman and Jim Parker did something similar back in the 70s etc, but I may wrong.

Be that as it may, we have twelve poems, written and read by Alan Titchmarsh, each poem followed by a musical portrait by Debbie Wiseman. Only on the last track, “The Glorious Garden” do music and poem combine together.

I suspect with even more listening my favourites will vary somewhat, but I love the strong and sturdy “Cedar of Lebanon”, the rousing and powerful “Topiary”, the soft and elegant “Snowdrop” but at the moment, my personal favourite is “Water Lily”, soft evocative opening that reminds one in a very positive way of Vaughan Williams. Debbie has written many compositions away from the Film and Television World, I wonder if she has ever contemplated writing a Symphony?. If so, it would be superb, for I think there is nothing she can’t do, for having listening to her music for a number of years now- I was privileged to write the CD notes for WILDE – I am so impressed that the standard she has kept up in a very fast moving world where deadlines are all important and the music has to be finished by a certain date. Still maybe it’s like Sir Andre Previn once said, you have to have that deadline to focus the mind and indeed finish the matter in hand.



I should also add wonderful playing by the National Symphony Orchestra led by Perry Montague – Mason with great solos by Violinist Jack Liebeck on “Myrtle” and “Snowdrop”, Gavin McNaughton (Bassoon ) on “Peony”, Andy Crowley (Trumpet) on “Marigold” and Debbie herself playing the piano on “Witch Hazel”

One can tell that Debbie was truly inspired by Alan’s poetry to compose such fine music. As I write, it is Number One in the Classic FM Charts and long may it reign

You can listen to either the poems, both , or just the music, and think of it perhaps as a score for Garden Documentary , but what ever way you listen to it, you will be rewarded with many hours of enjoyment, and how many albums can you say that about these days!

Of late Debbie has also been working on a movie entitled EDIE with Sheila Hancock , directed by Simon Hunter which will be released to the Cinemas on May 25th and the CD of the score will also released on that date by Silva Screen Records. Plus – good news all round – series 7 of FATHER BROWN which is just a delight, and I would love to see a commercial recording of the music ,for Debbie must have written hours of music for this entertaining series

To sum up, a most enjoyable album, to be enjoyed on many levels , A very worthy successor to last years MUSICAL ZODIAC. I love that album, and it helps when you like the music for your month of birth!.

We are indeed lucky to have talents as Alan Titchmarsh and Debbie Wiseman to provide us with so much enjoyment, via the written page and music. Let’s look forward to their next collaboration





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There has been a double album FILM MUSIC WORKS released recently, did you select the cues that went onto this compilation?

Yes, I made a meticulous selection of the most representative themes of each soundtrack that is included in the compilation, as well as including Documentary themes that until now had not been edited.



Your music for me personally is always so melodic and has a great appeal and attraction, at what age would you say that you became interested in music of any kind and do you come from a family background that is musical at all?

I recognized that I was interested in music for as long as I can remember,, my parents were very much music lovers and also movie goers, they loved music by great composers and the movies of famous directors. I am the first musician in my family and I have always been clear about my vocation.


Was writing music for the cinema a career that you were always focused upon doing?



Yes, I was always clear that I wanted to compose and specifically write film soundtracks. The worlds of music and image fascinate me and being able to bring them together in one discipline was my great aspiration.


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Where did you study music and what areas did you study or concentrate upon?

I studied at Aula de Música Moderna y Jazz in Barcelona, which belonged to the centres that Berklee College of Music of Boston has all over the world. I studied composition and I became interested very early in Film Scoring.

How did you get your first scoring assignment?


My first assignment was received from the director Joaquín Oristrell for the film UNCONSCIOUS a comedy set at the beginning of the 20th century in Barcelona. Joaquin presented me only the first lines of the script of the film and I went wildly to compose musical ideas, he liked them and made the film. I have a great memory of that first experience.

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When scoring a movie, how many times do you like to see it before you began to put together any ideas about the style of music or where music should be placed to best serve the picture?
I like to work a lot on the script, it is at that moment reading it where I start to raise the type of orchestration and where I also usually write a musical theme of about 8 or 10 minutes in which I put the first ideas that this story suggests to me.

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LOBOS DE ARGA was a movie that became very popular and your score too is renowned. how did you become involved on the movie, and what size orchestra did you utilize for the score?
LOBOS DE ARGA was my second project after A GOOD MAN with a director with whom I like to work, Juan Martínez Moreno, the approach was a lot of fun, with an aesthetic similar to the Kramer films of the fifties. I used a large format symphony orchestra and the recording took place for a week at the Radio Studios in Sofia, Bulgaria.


Are, there any composer contemporary or classical that you would say influenced you or inspired you?


I am a great lover of the music of Mahler, Beethoven or Bach, and I suppose that at a subconscious or emotional level they have to influence me. Among the contemporaries I adore among others the music of Krzysztof Penderecki.




You have collaborated with director, Miguel Angel Vivas on a few projects, does he have any involvement in what style of music that is employed on his movies?
Miguel is a very creative director who gives great importance to the music in his films, he leaves me a lot of freedom when it comes to work, and he likes that the music that I compose is emotionally involved with what he is telling through the script or the images, it is very demanding and I think that demand makes it very exciting.



Do you conduct and orchestrate all your film scores, or are there occasions when this is not possible because of schedules etc?
I always rely on the help of the conductor Alfons Reverté in my recordings, I think it is important for a professional director to direct my scores since I like to be directing the recording from the control booth with extended scores and viewing the images of the movie.



Do you like to work in a set routine on a movie, by this I mean do you start at the opening titles and work through to the end credits?
Yes, the truth is that I like to follow the order of the script and of the montage, I believe that in this way the music coherently follows the emotional arc that marks the film.



EL CUERPO contains a wonderfully vibrant and richly dark and melodious score, how much time were you given to compose the music for he movie, and how many players did you have performing it?
Thanks, I wrote the score over three months and it was also like in LOBOS DE ARGA a large-format orchestra, there were almost 90 performers and it was also recorded at the Sofia Radio Studios.

You have scored motion pictures and worked on shorts and tv series, is it more difficult to write for a short as opposed to a full-length movie?
No, I think it is more complex to compose the soundtrack of a feature film, Although I am very meticulous when working on short films and I dedicate the necessary time to them so that I am satisfied with the end result.

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What would you say are the main differences between scoring TV and Motion pictures?
Today there is very little difference, they are making really good productions for television and the only difference you find with the cinema is that they are divided into chapters. In the case of Spain, formerly there was little budget to work with orchestra in the productions for television, but this has now changed and now the producers appreciate the great difference a soundtrack can make to a project with the necessary means.



Have you encountered the TEMP TRACK on any of your scoring assignments, if so do you find this helpful or distracting?
I find it useful to know what are the musical preferences of the director, although I think it is usually harmful because during the whole montage of the film the director lived with this music applied to their images and then it can demand a great effort from the film maker when he has to get used to the new musical themes composed specifically for the movie.



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SEIS HERMANAS, is a TV series and I think I am correct when I say that you have scored over 250 episodes since 2015, for a series as long running as this do you ever re-use cues from previous episodes and what is the working schedule like for a long running series?
Yes, I know that 250 episodes are marked in IMDB, but they were really 465 episodes. for this series as it was broadcast daily,. It really does not give time to compose and synchronize all the music with the image, I composed a kind of musical file of about four Hours of duration that I was editing and applying to the different scenes, were two years of intense but very exciting work.


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What do you think is the job of music in film?
Music in the cinema has to provide clarity, emphasize, sublimate, be an element more than the director has to tell the film, always has to be at the service of the script and the story that is being told, so that its presence in the sequences in which it must be justified and reasoned, emerge from the context.

LA JAURIA, is a film you have been asked to score, when do you think we will be able to see this and will there be a soundtrack release?

LA JAURIA is a feature film directed by Carlos Martín Ferrera, with whom I worked for years on a TV-Movie called CODE 60. It is a genre film with a really original premise, I hope it will be released at the end of the year. I’m also working at the moment in another thriller directed by Pedro C. Alonso entitled “FEEDBACK”, which is produced by the same producers of “EXTINCTION”, Jaume Collet Serra and the Spanish company Vaca Films, has an international casting, Paul Anderson (Peaky Blinders), Eddie Marsan, Alexis Rodney and Ivana Baquero. I also hope that it will be released at the end of this year and that its soundtrack will be released.

When working out your musical ideas, what do you use, ie piano, pencil and manuscript or a more technical method?
When making the music of the movies I use piano, also stringed instruments like guitars, bass, mandolins, and I have scores and movie sequences open on my computer.


Have you ever given a concert of your film and TV music, if not would this be something that you would be interested in doing?

Yes, on many occasions, the most recent at the San Sebastian Film Festival, where the Orchestra of Euskadi, interpreted the suite of the soundtrack of LOBOS DE ARGA, also recently, the Orquesta de la Televisión Española RTVE, performed a suite of EL CUERPO in the Monumental Theatre of Madrid.


My thanks to the composer for his time and also for his patience.





Ok I think you all know I am not great fan of the soundscape approach to scoring movies, or for that matter the use of the DROOOOONE sound within scores, I think it is more annoying than anything, and ok yes it underlines scenes, but is it really classed as music? When I heard that JUNKIE XL was going to provide the music for the new TOMB RAIDER movie I was not that over enthusiastic but saying that I would not dismiss the score without even listening to it. So here we go then, from the start of the score the music and yes it is music, sounded ok, it was string led and also had a richness to it and a leaning towards a hint of a theme, the composer adding little nuances performed by piano, and also introducing a more upbeat if not subdued background, the string section fading in and out of the proceedings acting more like a punctuation to the synthetic sounds that gradually built beneath them. RETURN TO CROFT MANOR is a sombre and fragile sounding piece, which I have to say was something of a surprise to me, the cue however does alter towards the end of the track, with more upbeat electronics coming into the equation, but these are supported and augmented by the strings which seem to maintain a more melodic approach and keeping the synthetics at bay. I know that electronics, samples etc are here to stay in contemporary film music, and I suppose how the composer uses these tools is more important than what he utilises to create the sounds he thinks are correct for the movie. Recently composer Ludwig Gorasson scored BLACK PANTHER, and I was intrigued at the way in which he combined both synthetic with symphonic, I have to say that JUNKIE XL, right that’s it! His name is Tom Holkenborg, has fashioned a score for TOMB RAIDER in a similar style, by this I mean he has utilised both conventional instrumentation and bolstered this with synthetic elements which fit in wonderfully with the more symphonic parts of the work. The symphonic leads at certain points and is supported by electronic sounds and stabs which underline the symphonic statements, but then at other key points within the score, the symphonic becomes the supporter of the electronic, both complimenting and acting as support for each other. The composer creates some powerful moments in the soundtrack, his use of brass and strings combined with the electronica is well thought out and effective. This is not a soulless or toneless work filled with jagged and harsh sounds, it is a soundtrack that is very entertaining and also commanding in its overall sound and style. Of course, one can hear the influences of Hans Zimmer, but its not a bad thing on this occasion.


Holkenborg must be congratulated for fashioning a score that has drive and contains touches of fragility and melancholy, although there are a couple of cues that are highly percussive and can grate a little upon the listener, but it supports the movie, so I guess that it is doing what is supposed to. There are several lengthy cues on the soundtrack release, the composers unrelenting and assertive style shining through, enhanced by proud sounding brass and strings that give the work an anthem like feel, as in track number,7 and number 13, FIGURE IN THE NIGHT and BECOMING THE TOMB RAIDER, respectively. This is one to savour, one to listen to over a couple of times, I am confident it will grow on you.